February 4, 2013.
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Motshabi Hoaeane.
President Jacob Zuma says business feels shunned by government.
Congo's M23 rebels say a peace deal is possible by the end of February.
And, UN chief Ban Ki-moon suggests a review of the 21-year-old Somalia arms embargo.
President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday that the South African business sector felt the government wasn’t consulting it on key economic issues and decisions. He said that business felt that it wasn’t being engaged, even though it had views, thoughts and ideas to share.
The business community had asked for the meeting during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, last month. The meeting was attended by senior government officials including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel. Business was represented by the leadership of the Black Business Council and Business Unity South Africa (or Busa).
Zuma said that it was important to hold talks so that business could express its feelings and for government to understand and clarify certain things.
Busa president Jabu Mabuza pledged the business sector's support for the National Development Plan. He added that Sunday's meeting wasn’t only focusing on government's role but also zoomed in on the private sector's contribution to the national economy.
Congolese rebels said they expected to sign a peace deal with the government by the end of February. This would end their ten-month revolt. However, Kinshasa said "capricious" demands from the rebels could cause delays.
The Kampala talks aim to bring the rebels and Kinshasa closer on a wide range of economic, political and security issues dividing the two sides, including amnesty for "war and insurgency acts", the release of political prisoners and reparation of damages due to the war.
Bertrand Bisimwa, spokesperson for the rebels and a participant in the talks, said negotiations had already covered substantial ground. However, government spokesperson Lambert Mende was less optimistic.
The M23 rebels have carved out a fiefdom in eastern Congo's North Kivu province that has dragged Congo's eastern region back into war and displaced an estimated 500 000 people. Foreign powers fear the conflict in eastern Congo could trigger another regional war in a borderlands zone that has suffered nearly two decades of turmoil.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has suggested in a report on Friday that the Security Council should consider lifting an arms embargo on Somalia to help rebuild the country's security forces and consolidate military gains against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.
The council imposed the embargo in 1992 to cut the flow of arms to feuding warlords, who a year earlier ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged Somalia into civil war. Council diplomats said the arms embargo was "under discussion" as the delegations haven’t reached a final agreement.
Ban said that although security has improved considerably in Somalia, the struggle is far from over, as the insurgents continue to carry out their attacks using terrorist attacks and targeted assassinations.
Ban also recommended in the report that a new UN assistance mission to deliver political and peacebuilding support be established in Somalia and that the Security Council consider a UN or joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission once the combat operations against Al-Shabaab come to an end.
Also making headlines:
French planes pound Islamist camps in the north of Mali’s desert.
Germany says it will unfreeze €7-million worth of frozen aid to Rwanda, while keeping an eye on Congo’s progress.
And, South Sudan accuses Sudan of bombing its side of their volatile border.
That’s a roundup of news making headlines today.
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